As if recent release of Kindle 2 wasn’t enough… Kindle for iPhone application was just released to iTunes marketplace and is available for download! What it does is it brings most of the Amazon Kindle functionality to iPhone or iPod Touch. The application is free to download and can be installed either via iTunes (click here if you have iTunes already installed) or directly through App Store…
Once the application is installed – you need to enter your Amazon.com username and password and within seconds you have all the books that you’ve purchased before for your Kindle available in “Archived Items”…
Couple more taps on the touchscreen and you can start reading away.
Ok and now when the hype is gone lets be a bit more specific. The new app can do:
- Download and display all textual books that are available in the Kindle Store.
- Synchronize bookmarks, annotations, reading positions etc via the WhisperSync.
- Add new bookmarks.
- Text is displayed very clearly and is readable even at the smallest font size (it fact when smallest font size is contains almost as much text as my Kindle which I have set to second smallest font.
- Once application is registered iPhone immediately becomes selectable in the combo-boxes on the Amazon.com so you can send purchased books to the device.
And now on what it can’t do:
- It looks like periodicals a missing. At least WSJ that I’m subscribed to didn’t show up anywhere in the application.
- There is no text-to-speech
- Regrettably there is no special interface to buy more books. It has to be done via PC or iPhone Safari browser which is doable but not the most comfortable experience you would have. Unfortunately using Amazon Mobile application (also free) is not an option since it only allows adding Kindle books to wish-list. Hopefully Amazon will update it soon enough.
- There doesn’t seem to be any dictionary functionality.
To sum it up: Way cool, with a room for improvement. While it would seem that releasing such an application would hurt Kindle sales, personally I thing that it would not and overall it would be benefical to Amazon.com. And here is why:
- While the text is clear and readable, reading from iPhone is not the best experience.
- iPhone is much less autonomous than Kindle because it’s not meant to run long on a single charge but more importantly because when you are reading an eBook a back-lit display is drawing a lot of power from the battery. There is no way you can read 20,000 pages on a single charge and this was a major selling point to me and many other Kindle owners.
- So in no way iPhone will be able to even come close to replacing Kindle.
- On the other hand iPhone is a great opportunity because it is an undisputed leader by number of e-commerce transactions that are initiated and completed using it. This is because it provides excellent mobile browsing experience. You can actually navigate the web and shop with it comfortably.
- There were 10M+ iPhones sold during 2008 alone. Releasing this application gives Amazon better access to this audience. And by defintion this audience likes to consume information and spend money on gadgets. So I imagine quite a few would first buy a couple of books to their iPhone to do some quick lookup or to read something during some long commute and eventually would buy Amazon Kindle to have a better reading experience with these books.
Another reason I happy about this realease is that in the modern world of proprietary mutually incompatible and overly restrictive DRM systems that hurt honest users much more than pirates having a seemless easy way to access useful copyrighted and legally purchased content across several platforms from two different manufactureres is a step in the right direction.